MP calls for more funding for fire services in Merseyside amid cuts

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26 Oct 2018
Wirral West MP Margaret Greenwood has called on the Chancellor to deliver more money for fire services ahead of next Monday's budget.

This comes following a meeting with representatives of the Fire Brigades Union in Parliament earlier this week. Ms Greenwood met with Mark Rowe, the Regional Secretary for the North West, and Dave Topping, Officers Section Chair for the Merseyside branch.

Margaret Greenwood MP said:

“Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service has been hit disproportionately by government cuts with a previous 52% cut to its revenue support grant.

“Between 2010 and 2020, firefighter numbers in Merseyside will have been reduced from 927 to 580.

“Merseyside fire engines will have been cut from 42 to 22.

“Fire stations have also been closed or earmarked for closure, including West Kirby and Upton in Wirral West.

“These cuts are dangerous and are putting the safety of the public, and firefighters themselves, at increased risk.

“The Conservative government cannot go on cutting public services to the bone as they have done for the past eight years.
"The primary duty of any government is to ensure the safety of its citizens.

“It is time for the government to give Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service the funding it needs.”

Mark Rowe said:

“Because of cuts from central government, the majority of fire stations now only have one fire engine, whereas in 2010, many had two.

Closures, earmarked closures, and downgrading of stations, including at West Kirby, Allerton, Whiston, Huyton, Eccleston, Upton, Crosby, Aintree, Eccleston and Kensington, axing of fire engines and axing firefighters results in increased attendance times as fire engines travel from further afield.

“An increase in attendance times means that a fire has more time to develop, this results in a greater risk to the public and firefighters. Increased attendance times also mean that people trapped in fires, machinery, vehicles or lifts have to wait longer for us to arrive.

“Fire engines are now mostly crewed with four firefighters as opposed to the safer number of five firefighters. The reduced crew size means we are limited in what we can do when we arrive at incidents. Firefighters now face the most terrible moral dilemma when they arrive at house fires with a crew of only four. Do we perform rescues or fight the fire?

“Now, let me be quite clear firefighters will always put the public first, we will always attempt to rescue people, even if that means we have to jeopardise our own safety to do so. This appalling government know that, and that’s how they get away with cuts compromising our safety, your safety.

“Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service conducted a public consultation in 2016, prior to Grenfell. There is no doubt that the tragedy at Grenfell was a game changer for all fire and rescue services. It took 40 fire engines in the initial stages to deal with Grenfell. Merseyside only has 22 fire engines so could not possibly cope with an incident of that scale. Recently a routine fire on board a ship in Liverpool resulted in there being no fire cover at all on the Wirral, resulting in Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service having to come into the Wirral to deal with a road traffic collision.”